Newt Gingrich. Photo: Lauren Victoria Burke, WDCpix
Newt Gingrich. Photo: Lauren Victoria Burke, WDCpix

Gingrich in Minneapolis: Government is redistributing wealth ‘to the insufficiently happy’

By James Sanna
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 10:53 am
Mixing classic rightwing economics and Christianist populism, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a rapt crowd in a Minneapolis hotel Tuesday night that “government is taking from the overly happy and redistributing to the insufficiently happy.” 

Gingrich was addressing the Minnesota Family Council’s Annual Dinner at the downtown Minneapolis Hilton Hotel, where he shared top billing with a prerecorded speech by Rep. Michelle Bachmann. At a book signing at the same hotel earlier that evening, Gingrich was “glitterbombed” by pro-gay prankster Nick Espinosa.

“The [Declaration of Independence] doesn’t give you the right to happiness,” only the “pursuit of happiness,” Gingrich said, touting his role in pushing through welfare reform legislation during the Clinton administration.

Despite Gingrich’s well-known presidential ambitions, Tuesday night’s speakers focused their rhetoric almost entirely on the Family Council’s looming campaign to pass a constitutional amendment in Minnesota banning same-sex marriage. (After a close vote this morning, the measure is headed for a vote on the House floor before the session ends on Monday.)

Gingrich also mocked accusations of racism leveled against him on Sunday’s episode of “Meet the Press,” for his description of President Barack Obama as a “food stamp President” in a speech last week. Other speakers returned to the theme later in the evening, with the pastor leading the closing prayer going so far as to tell the crowd “we are not bigots” and give thanks for the ability of an African American to be elected to the White House.

Notably absent from any public accolades was the infamous You Can Run But You Cannot Hide youth ministry, whose anti-gay rhetoric was exposed by a Minnesota Independent investigation and whose connections to 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer became a major issue in Emmer’s unsuccessful campaign for governor. While the group, which regularly receives praise from Bachmann, did not receive any recognition from speakers — that honor went to the evangelical food shelf Hope for the City — it was nonetheless given prominent space among tables in the ballroom’s lobby, along with Hope for the City and other local evangelical ministries, organizations and churches.

Gingrich, Bachmann and Family Council CEO John Helmberger urged the hundreds of mostly older, predominantly white attendees to mobilize their churches for what Helberger said would be “the largest conservative get-out-the-vote campaign in history” in 2012.

Calling for donations from the crowd, Helmberger claimed the Family Council’s campaign to pass the amendment would cost between $4 and $6 million, but said that any donations made by audience members that night would be matched by an unnamed donor.

Helmberger, Bachmann and Gingrich all cast the 2012 vote in apocalyptic terms, claiming that the outcome would define the state’s politics for years to come.

“We are at a critical moment in our nation’s history,” said Gingrich, “perhaps as significant as 1860.”

In her closing appeal for donations, Bachmann claimed that “the liberal elite will come in like gangbusters” and “make a mockery of the people of Minnesota” if the amendment was defeated.

Despite the ominous rhetoric, though, Gingrich suggested that a vast majority of Americans supported Christian conservatives’ cause, which he labeled “American Exceptionalism.”

“When asked by Gallup a few years ago if they believed that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights made America an exceptional nation, or a nation just like all the others, more than 80% said yes,” he claimed, apparently referencing this survey.

Tuesday night also saw the semi-public debut of the Family Council’s “Ignite” campaign, uncovered by the Minnesota Independent recently. Attendees were given brochures describing the effort to cultivate conservative Christian political leaders, to push legislation codifying conservative Christian values, and mobilizing voters which the family council’s Helmberger said,would lead to a revival of what he called “Christian citizenship.”

“This [marriage amendment] is only the beginning,” he told the crowd.



Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 11:06 am

“government is taking from the overly happy and redistributing to the insufficiently happy.”

Gingrich has always had a knack for clever phrasing of nonsensical notions. That doesn’t even mean anything, but it sounds good.

Paul V
Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 11:17 am

It does however equate happiness to money. So the more money he has the happier he is.

Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 11:23 am

The man of many wives is embracing a prosperity gospel? Please, Newt, explain the implications of your argument on the morals of the working poor and middle class. And, while you’re at it, square your theology with Christ’s actual teachings as described in the Christian Bible. You should be ashamed of yourself. You too Michele Bachmann.

Praise Jebus, God hates poor people, Amen.

Wendy Leigh
Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

Big-top buffoonery. Dominionism is a CULT!!!

Dog is my shepherd
Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

So, the problem for our poor and middle-class citizens isn’t lack of jobs, inadequate education, hunger and unaffordable medical care, it’s that they are “insufficiently happy.” How incredibly selfish and narcissistic of them! At least we now know that our nation’s troubles can be cured with prozac. Thank you, Dr. Newt.

Sally Jo Sorensen
Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

Happiness is a Cheez-it box of rainbow glitter.

Jeff Wilfahrt
Comment posted May 18, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

Don’t you think Newt looks good in pink… oh wait, that’s his head.

John I
Comment posted May 19, 2011 @ 9:53 am

So where do bi-polar people fit into the May Queen’s “happiness” doctrine?

Comment posted May 19, 2011 @ 9:54 am

“Christian citizenship” and “This is only the beginning” are perhaps the most ominous quotes in the article. What’s next?

Comment posted May 19, 2011 @ 10:15 am


Religious conservatives have spent the last two decades trying to destroy non-religious public education, discouraging higher education, defunding science research and weakening the non-church options for people seeking food, shelter or medical care. And they have constructed Faux News to provide support to their alternate reality.

I suppose the next step is to suppress competition for Faux News while working to get zealots elected to national office and somehow raze the separation clause of the First Amendment of our Constitution. That opens the door for putting our Constitutional rights up to a public vote. Remember Democracy ceded through the ballot is still Democracy lost. And from there we’ll be a Christian version of Iran.

Theocracy prevented is preferred to Theocracy overthrown.

Praise Jebus, God hates a free people, Amen.

Richard T
Comment posted May 20, 2011 @ 11:09 am

Expand the “Welfare” tab and notice that includes Unemployment, Workers Comp and Housing. So of the 11% of the budget that is being distributed to the “unhappy” only something like 1% of the budget is actually what the Neo-Cons call “welfare.” Unemployment implies that a person was previously employed, and thus “happy” (by his standards.)

So yes, we’re taking so much from the “happy” and giving it to the “unhappy” in this country. So much so that France is shaking in its boots by the sheer towering dominance of our social welfare program.

Typical right-wing mentality. Cut the programs in the budget that actually cost the least (welfare, public radio/television) and bolster the ones that cost the most (defense/homeland security, corporate bailouts) because putting more money in fewer consumer’s pockets makes perfect economic sense.

Zera Lee
Comment posted May 22, 2011 @ 4:08 am

The 2012 election is going to be a civil war: civil rights, personal liberties, and democracy vs the republicans and corporate rule.

2012 will be the fight to save our very sovereignty.

Comment posted May 22, 2011 @ 11:13 am

Unfortunately Minnesota IS looking more like Newts Georgia .. Religious intolerance prevails over Justice. Justice is ONLY something that the poor and middle class have to answer to (not the Corporate Criminals and Bankers ) .. Teachers and Labor Unions and ANYONE scrounging for “The American Dream” are the NEW ENEMY!! And Education is something that ONLY the Corporate Elite should have for their kids.

It’s DISGUSTING how the “North Star ” State has plummeted to the ranks of a “Deep South” State.. Our Dumb Republikan Electorate seems to be completely satisfied with Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Joblessness, Corporate Anarchy, High Property Taxes for us “City Folk” , and Stupid Children..

Wake up Minnesota!!

Comment posted May 22, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

Yes, wealth redistribution is definitely happening….it is going right out of the pockets of the middle class and working class and into the pockets of the uber-rich. This has been going on for more than 30 years.

Dr Forrester
Comment posted June 5, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

I wonder what the Serial Adulterer would think about Jesus Christ, if he were walking amongst us today.

Who’s Paying for the Marriage Amendment Campaign? | Edina Local News
Pingback posted June 14, 2011 @ 8:28 am

[...] Minnesota Family Council (MFC), the state’s leading anti-gay marriage group, estimated the cost of their campaign as between $ 4 and $ 6 million. If past campaigns in other states are [...]

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